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Fireplace In Basement - Putting Hole In First Floor For Vent

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Posted by: from St Andrews West
10/20/2011 at 8:16:14 AM

I was told it's against code to put a hole in the first floor to vent the hot air from the fireplace in the basement due to something about possible fire getting to the first floor easily with a hole. I was wondering if there's a proper and safe way to get the hot air to the second floor. I was planning to use those metal ducts to make it as best as I can.

Thanks

REPLIES (2)
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Date/Time10/20/2011 at 3:15:44 PM

I remember as I was growing up we had grates in the floor allowing warm air from the woodstove to get up to the second story. I would guess it is against code (each municipality is different though for things like this there tends to be a lot of consistent by-laws). Best thing is to call the Municipality and/or local Fire Sercices to enquire. Then, once you know what you can't do, you can plan for what you can do.

The thing is, the floor between stories of a home act as a bit of a fire break. If there is a hole in the floor, air can get sucked down to feed the fire and/or the fire will be able to follow the air flow and thus get to the top floor much faster (watch the movie Backdraft to get the gist of this).

Brett Barager, MSW, CHI

Lone-Wolf Contracting

(A Division of Lone-Wolf Enterprises)

647-994-0785

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Date/Time10/22/2011 at 2:43:45 PM

Hi Andre, Brett is right that you shouldn't just start making holes in your floors. If you have a forced air heating system, you could install a return air duct in the basement at or near ceiling height to pick up the hot air that is being created. You would need to run your furnace fan to circulate the air throughout your home. If the fireplace is a sealed unit that uses outside air for combustion, you shouldn't have too much trouble. If you are burning interior air, don't put the return duct too close to the fireplace or you may cause a negative pressure and start sucking nasty gases & smoke back into the house.

I have heard that an open fireplace, burning already heated interior air, is actually a net loss as far as heating your home is concerned. It is really more of an atmosphere thing (cuddling with the significant other during a chick flick for instance).

In short, it is probably doable but you should be really careful how you go about it!

Good luck!

Jim Kuzma

Kettleby Handyman Services

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